Home For The Holidays

An Alpine resident creates a glittering December ambiance

In addition to hosting a 16-guest Christmas dinner, Janie Thomas invited the public to view her flair with celebratory décor during the Alpine Women’s Club Holiday Home Tour last December.

“I like Christmas décor to match home décor, especially that of a particular room,” she says. “For instance, in the living room, I chose silver and gold — a more neutral palette — and emphasized it with sparkle and white lights. I typically don’t have a traditional approach to Christmas decorating. I leave out the Santas and elves.”

In the living room, Janie erected a 9-foot tree. In the game room, she opted for a shorter and slimmer tree, which she decorated in faux succulents and accents of terra-cotta ribbon and balls covered in bark or made with sticks. She also filled the room with plants considered traditional for Christmas — but with a nontraditional twist.

“I used the most spectacular orange poinsettias, and they had glitter on them,” she says.

 “The tree in the kitchen is really special to me,” she continues. “I love birds, and so its ornamentation is done exclusively with birds and embellishments in burlap and swags of fruit and nests.”

Janie also loves floral arrangements and has learned to design her own.

“I was so fascinated with [ones I bought] that when I went to throw them away, I would take them apart and see how they were constructed. I started buying arrangements and adding to them, because I never thought they were full enough.” She since has taken to creating arrangements from scratch.

That skill helps her set a holiday tableau with multiple floral arrangements on a 12-foot table covered in a handmade lace tablecloth she bought in Italy. She adds elegance with her good silver and china and romance with candles in a combination of heights and diameters, from tapers to pillars.

“I think candlelight makes a beautiful table,” she says. “I typically go for white or ivory.”

Janie Thomas’ Top Five Decorating Tips

  1. Think outside the box. Holiday décor does not necessarily need to include Santa Claus and elves or red and green. Be inspired, be creative!
  2. Less is more. Limit your decorations to the focal points in your home (fireplace mantel, front door, entry, staircase, etc.).
  3. Invest in a quality artificial tree that fits your room. Real trees require maintenance and pose a fire risk. Artificial trees allow you to set up your tree sooner, so you can enjoy it much longer.
  4. Abaca! Abaca is the best “filler” for your tree and garland that money can buy and gives your décor an ethereal look. It comes in many colors, maintains its graceful shape and fills in the gaps, giving your special ornaments a lovely backdrop. Abaca can be purchased at most silk floral supply shops.
  5. Bring the outdoors in. Silk flowers, succulents, moss and vine balls, artificial fruit, nests, birds and animals add a natural element that brings the outdoors in.

Discovering and Recasting a Treasure

Two weeks after completing a remodel of their Alpine home, Janie and Bob Thomas were driving through Alpine when they saw a sign promoting a “Jewel of the Lake” house for sale.

As Janie recalls it, when Bob realized that it was the adobe home where he had spent many of his childhood days with family friends, he announced, “We are buying this today.”

They spent the next year and a half remodeling anew — an undertaking that included replacing all the plumbing and electrical work in a house built in the early 1970s. They had the advantage of owning a framing and building company and the challenge of having a six-month-old baby.

Another advantage they had was that Janie had attended the Design Institute of San Diego. Their home reflects her educated eye. She sourced fabrics for custom furniture and the gold-print linen window treatments that she designed. She selected Richard Marshall walnut flooring for most of the rooms and designed a floor treatment with bas relief tiles on risers of shallow steps in cross-cut travertine from the living room to the front door. She oversaw multiple custom craftsmen/artists, from stone and wood carving to mural painting.

The 8,800-square-foot home features six fireplaces (five inside and one outside). The fireplace in the breakfast room is elevated, and the one in the living room of hand-carved cantera stone is 15 feet in length. There’s another fireplace in the master bath, which also features a crystal chandelier over a tub surrounded by travertine and faced with a diamond-shaped pattern of marble. The other indoor fireplaces are in the master bedroom and game room, the latter of which is where the couple entertains. On one end of the game room is a bar and across from it a pool table and an arched, iron gate leading to the wine cellar.

All of the woodwork in the house — and there is custom cabinetry throughout — is hand-carved walnut. Along a passage of faux boulder, an iron railing, hand forged on-site to resemble rope, leads down stairs to a 2,000-bottle wine cellar with a faux-finished stucco wall and one of the homes several murals.

The largest mural, sketched by Janie and executed by local artist Edmond Piffard, consumes an entire wall in the dining room. “What do you do that’s going to be interesting for your guests to look at?” Janie posits. The answer may be the bronze, gold and silver painted ceiling, the crystal chandelier hanging from it or the 12-foot walnut burl table custom made in Italy. Guests on the side of the table with their backs to the mural overlook the living room with a lake view.

The exterior of the house is stucco and cantera stone, and all decks are covered in reclaimed French pavers. Set on four and a half acres, the house in the farther reach of homes along Palo Verde Lake is a jewel if ever there was one.


Categories: Home Design